Why James Johnson Should Not Be Fired


The Virginia Tech Hokies have had a painful basketball season and it finally came to an end after a close loss to Miami in the opening round of the 2014 ACC Tournament. The Hokies only won 9 games this season and once again finished last in the ACC in the second season under head coach James Johnson. Johnson was a surprise hiring two years ago to replace Seth Greenberg but now Johnson could be headed out of Blacksburg.

Johnson enters the offseason on the hot seat for the Hokies even though he has only been the head coach for two years which just shows how bad it has gone for the Hokies. Attendance was not very good for Virginia Tech basketball and AD Whit Babcock wants to make sure that Virginia Tech basketball is a winner.

Johnson has a lot of pressure on him and deservingly so after his two roguh seasons but is it already time to fire him or should the Hokies give him one final season to prove himself? That is the question that Whit Babcock will have to ask over the next few days and we will most likely know within a week if Johnson will be back or if the Hokies will be looking for a new head coach? So, what should the Hokies do about Johnson?

Virginia Tech should definitely give James Johnson one more year to prove himself. If he doesn’t, then Johnson will have to be fired. So, why should the Hokies keep James Johnson?

1. James Johnson made moves near the end of the season that made the Hokies more competitive.

For most of January, the Hokies were absolutely terrible but Johnson decided shift to a zone defense and a half-court offense which made the Hokies a lot more competitive. Virginia Tech came close to beating a lot of quality opponents including Virginia and North Carolina at home, and Pittsburgh on the road. While close isn’t a victory, it still is progress for a team that was atrocious early on in ACC play. Johnson made the right coaching moves and that is a big reason why the Hokies should give him one more year.

2. Johnson had to deal with a lot of injuries.

During most of the ACC season, it seemed like the Hokies would be without 3 or 4 players that helepd fill out their rotation and lacked point guard depth. The injuries to Adam Smith and Ben Emelgou meant that the Hokies had only two real guards in Devin Wilson and Will Johnston with Jarell Eddie running the point when Wilson got into foul trouble. Meanwhile, veteran presences in the frontcourt off the bench like Cadarian Raines and C.J. Barksdale had injury issues of their own. The Hokies had tons of injuries and Johnson should not be fired after all the injuries Virginia Tech had.

3. Johnson’s younger players made major improvement over the course of the season.

The Hokies might not have won many games but players like Devin Wilson, Joey Van Zegeren, and Trevor Thompson all made major strides. Wilson went from being an average point guard to a very talented ball distributor and scorer that made him one of the best freshman point guards in college basketball and an All-ACC Freshman. Joey Van Zegeren went from a defensive-only player to someone that could do some damage on offense which showed in his 21-point performance against Georgia Tech. Trevor Thompson went from a guy that seemed to be an ideal redshirt to being a power forward with a huge ceiling and a man that will likely start for a while in Blacksburg. What Johnson did in Blacksburg in terms of developing his younger players was very good.

4. The Hokies should be a lot better next year.

Virginia Tech has the talent that should make this a team that can compete for a spot in the NIT and possibly make a run at the NCAA Tournament depending on how well Johnson continues to develop this team. Now that might seem unlikely but the Hokies will be returning most of their key contributors who are young and showed tons of improvement. Also, the Hokies are bringing in some very good recruits including Justin Bibbs who has the talent to immediately replace Jarell Eddie and be a potential gem for the Hokies as a big-time scorer at small forward or as a third guard.